Genital herpes: Common but misunderstood

Don't assume that genital herpes isn't your concern.

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease that can cause small, painful sores in the genital area. The symptoms may include fever, itching, burning, and trouble urinating. But many people with the disease don't realize it, because either they have only mild or infrequent symptoms, or no symptoms at all. In women, herpes outbreaks can also be mistaken for vaginitis, urinary tract infections, or even hemorrhoids.

There is no cure for the disease, but medications and lifestyle measures can help manage symptoms and reduce outbreaks. Counseling is also important, for several reasons. Genital herpes is sexually transmitted and can't be eradicated; receiving a diagnosis may result in psychological distress, such as feelings of isolation, guilt, or anger. Patients may also need ongoing help with the physical aspects of herpes outbreaks and information about preventing transmission.

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